There’s no better feeling than soaring through the wild blue yonder, and Jennifer Reis of James Clemens High knows that sensation all too well. But, there’s one catch- she is scared of heights. Despite her fear, that hasn’t stopped her from becoming the No. 1 ranked pole vaulter in the state entering the heat of the high school track and field season.
“Adrenaline pushes me to overcome that fear and I don’t like to pole vault in practice because I don’t have that adrenaline rush I get during a competition,” said Reis, who won the state indoor pole vault championship in February with a jump of 11-feet, 6-inches while finishing tenth in the high jump with a height of 5-foot-2.
Standing just 5-2 herself and weighing in at a tiny weight of 115 pounds, the senior is not only a leader on the track team for the Jets, she is also a leader in other areas as a student-athlete. She is president of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society and is an officer in the James Clemens ROTC. Reis dreams of being accepted to West Point to begin what she hopes is a career in the military. She’s also in a leadership role with her teammates.
Each Sunday afternoon after an away track meet, Reis leads and coordinates the effort of cleaning the school bus the track team uses on their trips. “I feel like I do the little jobs our coaches shouldn’t have to do,” added Reis. “We clean the inside, wipe down the seats and clean the windows along with throw away any leftover trash.”
Reis is among the top 10-percent in her senior class where she carries a 4.5 GPA. She’s an outstanding athlete who leads by example.
As an athlete, she has seen her troubled days suffering her share of injuries. As a freshman, she had a stress fracture in her right heel and wore a medical prescribed boot to help with recovery. At the state track meet she removed the boot and participated in her two events and then returned to wearing the boot. Last summer, she underwent surgery for a torn labrum of her right shoulder. She said the injury came during recreational play time with her friends while playing badminton. She also suffered a knee injury as she once missed the landing mat during a jump and landed on concrete instead.
Reis began track while in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School when her friend first suggested she join the team. The choice was forever life changing.
“As soon as I joined track I felt like I had wasted my life up until that point,” said Reis. “It was life changing. Through my track team I actually learned what a family was.”
“I love the individual part of track as I focus on my events, but at the same time I’m also trying to do my best for everyone else,” said Reis. “If you put in the time, you’ll see your results.”
Being seeded No. 1 in the state certainly carries a lot of pressure for Reis who feels she can’t make a mistake or if she takes a day off others have a chance to catch up to her. With all she has been through in her life pressure is something that can stare her in the face and she will never blink an eye.
“I’m just glad that during a pole vault I cross over the bar and I fall backwards and don’t have to look down,” said Reis with a laugh. “In my first day in track I liked the feeling I received by swinging myself in the air. I like being competitive, even with my fear of heights.”
By Bob Labbe
Madison Weekly News